Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 46
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
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FULL-COURT PRESSURE: Princeton University women’s basketball senior co-captain Ali Prichard puts on the defensive heat in a game last season. Last Friday, Prichard and her teammates hung in there at both ends of the floor as they fell 76-52 to No. 4 Maryland in the Preseason WNIT in the season opener for both teams. The Tigers will continue play in the WNIT as they play at Samford on November 16 and then face either East Tennessee State or Delaware November 17. In the meantime, Princeton was slated to have a regular season game at Wagner on November 13.

Prichard Has Ambition to Get Into Coaching, Now Bringing Passion to PU Women’s Hoops

Bill Alden

Ali Prichard’s career ambition is to become a basketball coach.

The senior forward and co-captain for the Princeton University women’s basketball team is getting exposed to a different view of the game as a new staff, headed by Courtney Banghart, takes the helm of the Tiger program this season.

“The team goal is to get better every day,” said Prichard. “We all look forward to practice every day. The coaches don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Coach Banghart brings a lot of positive energy. It’s a learning environment. It’s competitive but it’s a fun environment. Basketball is fun.”

While Prichard and her teammates didn’t get the result they wanted in the team’s season opener last Friday as they fell 76-52 at No. 4 Maryland in the Preseason WNIT, they did have fun as they pushed the Terps.

Whitney Downs scored 14 points while Meagan Cowher added 13 as the Tigers didn’t back down from the challenge posed by Maryland, a program which won the 2006 NCAA tournament.

The Tigers will continue play in the WNIT as they play at Samford on November 16 and then face either East Tennessee State or Delaware November 17. In the meantime, Princeton was slated to have a regular season game at Wagner on November 13.

The team’s solid performance was the outgrowth, in part, of the trust that has developed between the players and the new coaches.

“Coach Banghart shows us a lot of respect; she really tries to get to know us as people,” added Prichard, a 5’11 native of Apple Valley, Minn. who comes into the season with 275 points and 137 rebounds in her career.

“She shows us she cares. When you have that kind of coaching relationship, it’s only natural for the players to really respect and look up to that leader. The respect she shows us cycles around. I hang on every word she says because I trust her. She cares about me and wants the best for me and the team.”

As a co-captain, Prichard respects the players she will be leading. “It is a huge honor, obviously,” said Prichard, who shares the captain duties with Cowher and junior Caitlin O'Neill. “Princeton recruits athletes who are driven, very motivated, and intrinsically good leaders. To be chosen as a leader to lead them is a great honor.”

Being a captain won’t change Prichard’s approach on a daily basis. “In the past, it has always been one of my goals to bring a lot of emotion and passion to the practices and games and fire people up,” said Prichard. “I view that as my role still.”

Prichard’s feel for the game augments her leadership and marks her as a natural for the coaching profession.

“I think I see the game well; I try to identify people’s strengths; that’s an important aspect of my leadership,” added Prichard.

“If I see Meg Cowher wandering around the 3-point circle and say what are you doing, get on the block. Whitney Downs is a lefty who likes to come off a ball screen and shoot off the dribble, I’ll be more apt to set her ball screens instead of player screens.”

In Prichard’s view, Princeton brings a lot of strengths to the table collectively.

“I think we have a strong senior class and the juniors are playing well,” said Prichard.

“We do have all the pieces to do well. We have great shooters and we have a versatile inside game. Even our traditional post players like Meg, Elizabeth Pietrzak and Julia Berger are very athletic; they can run the floor and defend the perimeter. That gives us a lot of options defensively and offensively.”

While Prichard is confident about the team’s prospects, she knows that the players can’t afford to look too far ahead.

“The Ivy League is far away,” said Prichard. “The feeling on the team is so positive. We are working so hard; we continue to get better everyday. If we keep doing that, the other stuff will take care of itself.”

Spoken like a true coach.

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